There is an increasing epidemic of childhood obesity in the United States and throughout the world. Many experts have estimated that one in every five children between the ages of six and sixteen are overweight or obese. As the numbers in childhood obesity continue to rise so do the number of children with severe health conditions such as heart disease or diabetes. And as childhood obesity increases so does adult obesity. Studies have shown that obese children have a harder time losing the weight once they have put it on. If you have a child or know someone suffering from childhood obesity here are some ways to help figure out how to combat childhood obesity.
Factors leading to childhood obesity
Although some believe that childhood obesity is simply a lack of discipline with kids and their parents, there can sometimes be other reasons why so many children are suffering from obesity today. And while finding a way to combat obesity is the next step, the first step should be finding out why your child is obese. What factors are contributing to their excessive weight gain? The causes of childhood obesity are mutli-factorial. Here are a just a few ideas:
· Lack of physical activity is one of the reasons that so many children are overweight and obese today. Most of a child’s spare time is not spent outside playing with friends, or riding bikes around the block. It is commonly spent sitting in front of the television, paying video games, or sitting at the computer. Children need at least thirty minutes of physical exercise a day; structured or unstructured.
· Unhealthy eating habits is another huge factor in childhood obesity. Children are not totally to blame for this as most have little say over what mom or dad buy at the grocery store. Parents need to be responsible when it comes to feeding their children and what they buy at the store. Providing appropriate meals that help kids get their “5 a day” and providing healthy snacks can help decrease a child’s chance at obesity.
· Genetics is also a factor that contributes to childhood obesity although it is unknown how much of a role it actually plays. Studies have proven that genetics can have a lot to do with obesity and gaining weight.
How to combat childhood obesity
As parents it is our job and responsibility to take care of our children and teach them what it is they should be eating, how they can exercise to stay healthy, and helping them in any way possible to live a healthier life. Children will follow what they see you do, so if you come home from work every day, plop yourself in front of the television with a bag of chips, and veg out they are likely to follow that behavior. Here are some ways to help your child:
· Change family behaviors. Rather than singling out your child and making them feel worse than they already do, get the entire family involved and make some healthy lifestyle changes. Don’t do anything extremely drastic right away. Start out small and make some changes in the way you snack or making sure that you have vegetables on the table every night. Set some goals and share them as a family so that everyone is on the same plate. Remember that this won’t be easy so flexibility is necessary, and always remember to celebrate the successes you’re having.
· Change your environment. Change is never easy. It takes us out of our norm and away from our comfort zone, but in order to really make a difference you have to embrace it. Set some specific rules about watching television and playing computer or video games, while at the same time try and build some physical activity into the routine. Instead of eating out so much set a goal to find some easy healthful meals that you can make for the family.
· Be a good role model. Probably the most important thing you can do as a parent is to show your child that you’re willing to make a change too. Keep junk food out of the house, control your portion sizes, be physically active each day, and stress the importance of living a healthy lifestyle.
Learning how to combat childhood obesity really and truly begins with the parents. Parents need to take responsibility for their children and help them learn how to make healthy life choices.